NaNoWriMo: Getting Ready Tip No. 4

It's getting closer.  National Novel Writing Month starts in 16 days.  Yikes, yikes, yikes.

There's more and more stuff online to help you NOW.  Right now, as you get ready for NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Preparation

Today's tip:  you are not an island.  Go out there and surf around for stuff that will help you get the deal done.

Here's a few places to hit:

1.  The Official National Novel Writing Month Resource Collection

NaNoWriMo has 35 links on its resources page as of today.  Things like "3 Steps to Rev Up Your Writing Momentum," and "Slaying Your First Draft Dragons."

2.  Writers' Digest

Here are 30 tips in one long article.  You don't have to buy their "prep kit."  No, you don't.  Some of this stuff is something that you might want to read if you are getting skeered about NaNoWriMo, as opposed to planning your outline or debating the color of your heroine's hair.

3.  Storist

This is another long article.  It's more about the task at hand than the psychological aspect of NaNoWriMo.  Read this for things like "Finding Your Key Scenes" and "Write a Two Page Outline," as well as "Pack for Your Expedition."

4.  Bustle

Here are your "10 Last-Minute NaNoWriMo Prep Tips."  Because you know that you want to read them, even if you are organized and prepared.

5.  Surly Muse

What if you haven't even begun to get ready?  Is it too late?  No, no, no.  Surly Muse is ready to help:  go read "The Hailstorm Approach: Prep for NaNoWriMo in Seven Days or Less."


Passive Voice and the Zombie Rule

For lawyers, writers, and researchers, passive voice can be the right choice.  Or not.

Edits of my work do come back with notations that I've used the passive voice here and there.  

I am not ashamed.  

Sometimes, it's okay.  That's right, folks.  Sometimes, passive voice gets to stay.  

Finding The Passive Voice

Before deciding when and if passive voice is acceptable, you need to find it.  There's a fun grammar hack for ferreting out passive voice in your writing.  

It's called the "zombie rule."

I'm not sure who invented this -- maybe rjohnson, USMC professor --- but it's fun and it's fast.  All you do is stick the phrase "by zombies" after the verb.  If it works, then it's passive voice.

The Zombie Rule: Examples

If the sentence makes sense with zombies, then YIKES you've got passive voice.  Examples:
  • Those dishes have already been washed [by zombies].  (Yep.)
  • The court ruled the statute was [by zombies] unconstitutional.  (Nope.)
  • The rumor didn't spread by itself - it was leaked [by zombies] in social media. (Yep.)
  • SCOTUS released [by zombies] its opinion today.  (Nope.)
For more on the Zombie Rule, check out Snarky Grammar Guide and Grammarly.

Passive Voice Has Its Place

There are times to use passive voice.  I'm not going to discuss them here.  Suffice to say, it's acceptable if it's adding value to your writing.  You know this.  

The University of Wisconsin finds passive voice works when you are:
  • creating an authoritative tone; or
  • emphasizing the action rather than the actor.
Purdue allows passive voice when it is "rhetorically effective." 

The American Bar Association has an article discussing passive voice in legal writing.

(Go to the above sites to read more detail and get more examples.)


Free Public Domain Images: The New York Public Library

Looking for free public domain images for your blog or ebook?  I have a series of posts dedicated to that treasure hunt (check here).

How to Find Free Public Domain Images at NYPL Site

Today, I'm sharing the resource provided by the New York Public Library at their website.  Here's what you do:

1.  go to their site;
2.  enter your search into the white search box in the top right-hand corner -- but don't click it;
3.  click that little tab and you will get the option to search "only public domain."
4.  if you don't choose that option, never fear.  You can also narrow your search to public domain images by clicking in the left sidebar of your search results.

Not For Everyone - But Great for Some

Now, caveat:  these images aren't for everyone and every subject.  If you're a lawyer writing a blog dedicated to death penalty issues (like I co-author with Terry Lenamon), then this isn't a great find.

However, other niche blogs may find some great stuff.

And ebook covers?  There's some really interesting images here to consider.  For those who might want to find public domain images for uploading into Canva, for instance.  (See my post on using Canva for your covers here.)

I found the above image in just a few seconds at the NYPL site.  I like it.  Thurston was amazing, right?